Neely Höegen: International Studies & Alpha Chi Omega

If you made a list of things that you doubt would ever happen, it might include the following: 1. Go to the moon, 2. Win an Oscar and 3. Win a presidential election while residing in a foreign country. Although you may not be able to check these things off of your list, Neely Höegen can cross off number three. Last fall, Neely became President of the Carthage College chapter of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority while studying abroad in France. This whirlwind event happened during her junior year at Carthage, but let’s start the story of Neely Höegen when she first joined Alpha Chi Omega.

Photo courtesy of Neely Höegen

Neely went through high school as a quiet leader, and after starting college, never imagined joining a sorority, Neely says, “I signed up for recruitment on a whim. I didn’t know anything about Greek Life at Carthage and I honestly didn’t know where I would end up after recruitment week.” When she walked into the recruitment party for AXO, she immediately fell in love.

Through her education classes and encouragement and inspiration of her sisters, Neely gained confidence and realized that she had the qualities necessary to hold an Executive Board position in Alpha Chi Omega. However, Neely’s class schedule didn't seem to include enough free time to hold an executive position within the chapter, especially considering she was currently abroad in France.

Through the use of Google calendar, a personal planner and a whiteboard in her room, Neely was able to arrange her schedule in order to accommodate homework, work, sorority activities and “me time.” With her schedule planned out for her return to America, Neely sent in a video speech to run for the coveted role of President.

Being in France, Neely was mainly speaking French. However, her presidential campaign speech needed to be in English. “I practiced my speech and recorded it a few times, it was the most English I had spoken in a long time.” She sent her speech in a week before the due date, and “all week, I got encouraging messages from the other AXOs and it was really helpful in calming my nerves.”

On the night of elections, “I remember waking up every 30 minutes the night of the elections to check my email. It was the night before a test but I didn’t care.” Although she ended up falling asleep, Neely woke up to the best news: she was the next President of Alpha Chi Omega. “I found out when I woke up that morning and I was so excited. I was so happy the entire day and the love and support I got from 4,000 miles away was incredible.”

As President, Neely has a role as an advocate and a leader. “I mainly oversee our VP positions within the chapter. I write a lot of emails and communicate with Headquarters, chapter members and our advisor. I really am just a listening ear and I try to help everyone else succeed in their positions. I also get to lead our chapter and executive board meetings.”

Neely is a calm and confident leader who’s willing and able to tackle any situation. Thus far through her presidency, Neely has had an amazing experience and was willing to offer advice to someone who is looking to run for a presidency (in Greek life or other organizations).

“Do it. It may be one of the most challenging things you do during college, but it’s so worth it. Through this opportunity, I’ve met so many people at Carthage, and nationally. I’ve networked and I’ve built an impressive résumé. I’ve had the opportunity to become a role model and I’ve also been able to make changes and start discussions about things that affect my sisters and I. It is such a rewarding experience.”

Neely Höegen’s journey to becoming President of Alpha Chi Omega was something straight out of a storybook. She took on the challenge of an international campaign and came out on top. Neely prepared herself for presidency by organizing her schedule, gaining confidence from classmates and sisters and spending a little time refreshing her English. She turned a study abroad trip into something that generates more than travel memories.

Neely Höegen’s presidential experience may not be conventional, but no one says it has to be! As the President says herself, “Do it.” Work hard, go outside your comfort zone and win that election.